A jealous lover, who told his ‘on off’ girlfriend he would drown her as he plunged her head into a shower unit full of water in Ingoldmells, has escaped an immediate jail sentence.
Lee Clarkson, of Dearne Road in Bolton upon Dearne near Barnsley, was said to be unable to accept that his relationship with Heather Whitelaw was over when his temper boiled over at the Chase Caravan Site on August 23 last year.
The 39-year-old pleaded guilty to assault on the day of his trial on April 3.
Skegness magistrates heard on April 26 that Clarkson, father to three of Mrs Whitelaw’s four children, had gone along on the family break despite their relationship having seemingly broken down.
“She didn’t want him to come but he arranged for transport to get them there and she gave him the benefit of the doubt,” explained Paul Wood for the prosecution.
The court heard Mrs Whitelaw was washing the children’s clothing in the shower unit when Clarkson grabbed both her arms, held her tightly and forcibly pushed her head towards the water, telling her: “I’ll f****** drown you, you silly cow.”
After he had let go Mrs Whitelaw made off to a friend’s caravan nearby believing the holiday ‘had been ruined’, but not before giving Clarkson £50 for the train fare home. When she returned to the caravan she found he had cut the legs and sleeves off a number of her clothes.
Mr Wood told the court Clarkson had previous convictions for domestic violence towards the complainant, and reminded magistrates that he had maintained a not guilty plea until the day of his trial.
Defence solicitor Julian Brook said Clarkson had been upset to see Mrs Whitelaw exchanging ‘affectionate messages’ with another man on the internet.
“He found it embarrassing that it was being played out for all to see on Facebook. His family and friends could see what was happening,” he said. “The defendant, in his mind, hoped somehow that the relationship could be rekindled.
“He felt her approach was twin-track and he had feelings of jealousy. Matters did come to a head. It’s clear that he couldn’t take it any more.”
He said his client had trouble coping with his emotions but was ‘a man who can learn from his mistakes’.
“It is a very unfortunate situation and one that the defendant is sincerely sorry for,” he added. He said Clarkson’s late guilty plea had avoided putting the witness through ‘the ordeal of giving evidence’.
The court heard Clarkson is currently unemployed, and is in receipt of £112 per fortnight in benefits.
The magistrates handed down a 20 week prison sentence, suspended for two years, as well as a two year supervision order and an order to attend an integrated domestic abuse programme.
Clarkson was made to pay £150 costs and £150 compensation to Mrs Whitelaw for the damage to her clothing.
Magistrates also gave him a two year restraining order meaning he can only contact Mrs Whitelaw indirectly for matters affecting their children.
“This is a very serious offence,” Clarkson was told by the magistrates. “If you commit another offence you can expect to serve that prison sentence.”